This process typically involves identifying, fostering and marshaling motivation and energy in networks of people in service of change. It may spring from a variety of sources including from an increased awareness of basic human needs or injustice, from the emergence of crises and opportunities, from top-down, middle-out or bottom-up leadership and mobilization, or from external actors or events. Resonance also can be mercurial; ebbing and flowing and taking different forms at different stages of systemic change. Ultimately, resonance is the energy necessary to drive systemic change. (Image by jitze)
In order to make sustainable change in complex social systems, it is necessary for people to work together as teams, organizations, and networks of organizations. However, many of the traditional ways organizations are structured and run are founded on more linear approaches that make it very difficult for these organizations to support non-linear, complex, and systemic efforts. This creates a dual challenge to a systems practitioner – both how to grapple with the complexity “out there” (in the social contexts in which they work) and to grapple with the complexity “in here” (in the complex organizations they work within). This thematic strand looks at good practice in the area of building organizations that can operate in non-linear and systemic ways. What are the needed attitudinal, structural, and transactional/behavioral qualities of a “systems-enabled” organization and how can we transition more linear organizations into ones that think and act in non-linear/systemic ways?
Learning and non-linear impact assessment is a fundamental issue to be addressed in the implementation of innovation that employs dynamical systems theory (DST). Complex social and social-ecological systems change in non-linear and unpredictable ways, and the knowledge about their dynamics and how to best affect outcomes emerges over time. All too often, monitoring and evaluation is based on pre-determined indicators (typically output metrics) that serve only to measure attainment of and/or compliance with project goals but provide little value for learning about the workings of the system in a way that can facilitate understanding of the effects of the work on the system and inform adaptive management to improve outcomes.